Atanas Kiryakov: Bulgaria Offers Unique Combination for Software Start-Ups

Novinite Insider | November 19, 2016, Saturday // 23:50| Views: | Comments: 0
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Bulgaria: Atanas Kiryakov: Bulgaria Offers Unique Combination for Software Start-Ups Atanas Kiryakov. Photo courtesy of Ontotext

Ontotext is a proof that Bulgaria is a great place for software start-ups, Atanas Kiryakov, the company's founder and chief executive officer, has said.

Kiryakov is one of the four Bulgarians selected in the New Europe 100 ranking - a list of 100 changemakers in Central and Eastern Europe selected by Warsaw-based journal Res Publica, Google, state-supported Visegrad Fund and the Financial Times. His brainchild, Ontotext, is a provider of semantic databases and content analytics to large media companies.

"This award is great recognition for the entire team of Ontotext. We invested over 400 person-years in R&D across Artificial Intelligence (AI), Semantic Web and database management," he has told Novinite when asked to comment on his achievement.

"Our Dynamic Semantic Publishing (DSP) platform is adopted by many of world's leading media and publishers - from media (like BBC) to newspapers (FT) and scientific publishers (Oxford University Press, Elsevier and others)."

The DSP platform combines data from multiple open data sources (e.g. Wikipedia and Geonames) with proprietary data into a big knowledge graph - billions of facts about millions of people, organizations, locations and other concepts. DSP loads this rich knowledge into GraphDB, a semantic graph database engine, and uses it to analyse text.

"This is the innovation - the information combined from all the these sources gives DSP context, the common sense knowledge that people have and computers do not. This allows us to make accurate analysis and to produce metadata tags with unmatched precision and richness. The benefit for the publishers is that they can better interlink, classify, recommend and combine their content into new products, channels and feeds. And to provide their readers with more interactive and exciting reading experience."

There were several factors which allowed Ontotext - a small company from Bulgaria - to become global leader in semantic technology.

"The company emerged around a very strong AI group the Linguistic Modelling Lab in the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. Myself and other key people in Ontotext started studies and research in this laboratory - the researchers there directed our interest in some of the hottest AI fields."

"The second factor was that I started Ontotext as R&D laboratory within Sirma Group. My partners from Sirma helped Ontotext a lot to develop and mature as enterprise software vendor. Many university start ups do not have the chance to develop in an environment with strong culture for enterprise software development."

"The third factor was that we had the chance to be involved in multiple collaborative research programs of the European Commission: FP5, FP6, FP7, Horizon 2020. Beyond the funding, these projects helped us to get connected and to work together with all the leading research groups and software vendors in Europe. Finally, in 2008 Ontotext was spun off to receive funding from NEVEQ - the first real venture capital fund in Bulgaria."

Bulgaria offers software start-ups a "unique combination of engineering talent, favourable taxation, access to venture capital, access to EC research programs and to the entire EU market," Kiryakov has added.

The New Europe 100 list is a selection of people and organizations changing the region's societies, politics or business environment and displaying innovation, entrepreneurialism and fresh approaches. Nominations came from national institutions, think tanks and the public.

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Tags: Atanas Kiryakov, Ontotext, New Europe 100, NEVEQ
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